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Educators: students need opportunity, not just tests

Proposal would reduce federally mandated tests to ensure greater educational opportunity for all students


WASHINGTON - April 21, 2015 -

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) today introduced a bill to bring much-needed reform and relief to students from the federally mandated testing required by No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The Student Testing Improvement and Accountability Act would reduce the amount of federally required high stakes, standardized tests by more than fifty percent, and, instead, restore “grade-span testing.” This would occur both in English and Math—once in elementary school, once in middle school and once in high school. This past week, the Senate began in earnest the process to reauthorize the federal law with unanimous passage of the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 out of its Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

NCLB more than doubled the number of high-stakes tests in reading and math. In these subjects alone, K-12 students now take 14 federally mandated tests, compared to six before enactment of the law. In some cases, more than a month of instructional time is lost to test preparation and administration in a single school year.

The following statement can be attributed to Lily Eskelsen García, a sixth grade teacher who was named the 1989 Utah Teacher of the Year and elected president of the 3 million-member National Education Association:

“What is clear after years of too much testing is that the status quo isn’t working for students, especially those in high-poverty areas. We must reduce the emphasis on standardized tests that have corrupted the quality of the education received by children. Parents and educators know that the one-size-fits-all annual federal testing structure has not worked and has not sufficiently exposed the reasons for opportunity gaps where they exist. The needs of students will be best served when states and districts are allowed to put into place different kinds of assessments that provide valuable information for students, parents and educators to help find solutions.

“Last week we saw progress with the Senate markup of the NCLB reauthorization. This legislation by Sen. Tester keeps us going in the right direction by reducing the emphasis on standardized, one-size-fits-all tests, which have not worked to sufficiently exposed opportunity gaps where they exist. By allowing states and districts to return their focus to providing students with access to a rich variety of courses that encourage creativity and problem solving, we help students reach their full potential.

“We have to level the playing field and close the opportunity gaps that persist in our public schools, just as the original law intended. We have to move the needle forward for our most vulnerable students.

“We commend Sen. Tester for stepping up and speaking out for kids with the introduction of this very important legislation. The Student Testing Improvement and Accountability Act recognizes the growing problem with too much testing and proactively putting forward a commonsense proposal that would again allow educators to inspire students and their natural curiosity, imagination, and desire to learn.”

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The National Education Association (www.nea.org) is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers. Learn more at www.nea.org.

CONTACT: Staci Maiers, NEA Communications  202-270-5333 cell, smaiers@nea.org


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Educators: students need opportunity, not just tests